Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Juliano Mer-Khamis Killed in Jenin


From Mazin Qumsiyeh
Humanity mourns.  We are shocked.  Juliano Mer-Khamis, a friend and fellow peace activist, was murdered in Jenin.  The masked killer/s whoever they were were cowards whose madness will not deter those of us who continue to work for justice and peace for all. If they thought they could kill coexistence and love in the holy land by killing a symbol and a great
activist, they are mistaken.   Juliano symbolizes what many of us have worked for: a transformation of our homeland into a pluralistic democratic state where every human being regardless of his religion (Jewish, Christian, Muslim) would be treated with dignity and respect.  Fundamentalist notions of superiority were at odds with this message. His killers will not get their way and justice will prevail.  But Juliano’s loss is a shock to all of

Juliano was a superb human being who embodied the best qualities of activism and dedicated leadership for human rights, justice and peace.  He was my age and I first met him a few years ago when we brought him for the Connecticut screening of the film Arna’s children, the story of his mother and the Children of Jenin Refugee camp (see
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNGmA8Ma1UM for scenes from the film and Juliano’s words).  On numerous occasions over the past few years I visited Jenin Freedom Theater that Juliano cofounded and that injected so much beauty and hope into the lives of the people at Jenin Refugee Camp.  See http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/

Juliano took the characters of compassion and caring of his Israeli Jewish mother (she herself worked to challenge Zionist supremacy and fundamentalist idiocies for decades) and gentile love of land and people and pacifist characters of his Palestinian father. He exemplified everything that I and millions of others aspired to: coexistence, tolerance, nonviolence, peace,
love, passion for life, richness in diversity and so much more.  He had a two year old child and his wife as I knew was pregnant or may have just delivered their second child.  His absence will be felt but I for one will work to ensure that his work continues and accelerates.  The best answer to violence is to intensify our work and build on the vision thus never allowing these forces of hate to destroy the future.  As to who killed Juliano: all humans are guilty.. our inability to rise as a species beyond violence is largely due to our apathy and indifference to the suffering of fellow human beings.  It is telling that many political leaders (from Hamas, Fatah, Israeli leaders) remain silent on the murder of Juliano when they so readily spoke at other convenient political junctures.  Those who are apathetic are just as guilty as those fundamentalist racists who ordered this killing or pulled the trigger to shoot fellow human beings.  I for one will have a lot of pain in my heart for Juliano, for Bassem, for Jawaher, for Rachel and all the other friends we lost along the way.  We must make sure that their murders do not go in vain and the best thing we can do is increase our efforts to continue the path and bring others to this path.  Killers must know that 10 will rise in place for every peace activist they kill.  Those of us active in the same cause of coexistence and peace must intensify our

The unfolding popular nonviolent resistance in the Arab world reminds us of the power of such movements.  We Palestinians have engaged in such nonviolent struggle for over 130 years which I summarize in my recent book. People can be very innovative in these nonviolent struggles.  Palestinian women thus were the first to use cars in mass demonstrations: 120 cars were gathered and moved beeping their horns in a parade down the old city streets of Jerusalem in October 1929, a spectacle at that time.  When flying the Palestinian flag was punishable by 9 months in jail, Palestinians hung laundry in the colors of the flag.  In 1988, Palestinians in my village founded the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People which brought internationals and even Israelis to nonviolently break the siege and curfew laid on our town during the tax revolt.  There were so many inspiring and innovative acts of nonviolent resistance that were successful in so many

The key to understanding the power of these movements is to just look at the history of how we got women’s right to vote, civil rights, the 40-hour work week, ending the war on Vietnam, ending support for apartheid South Africa, and many others.  It is when people shed their fears, fears usually stoked by those elites in authority, that they realize that nothing can stop as as individuals working together nonviolently.  In the 1960s civil rights movement, the saying was “free your mind and your ass will follow”.  Once we free our minds, nothing can stop us.  That is what Egyptians, Tunisian, and others have realized.  That is what we Palestinians of various religions realized.  That is what humanity is realizing. Howard Zinn said, you can’t be neutral on a moving train.  The choice before us as individuals and as
societies has always been between fear and courage, between hate and love, violence and popular resistance to violence.   Join us in Palestine July 8-16 for a week of activism and peace building. Thank you.                                                                  Mazin Qumsiyeh

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